Sunday, November 20, 2016

Trip to Sonoma...Donabe Cooking Class at SHED and Single Thread Opening Night

Kyle's steam-fried cod and vegetables in tagine-style donabe, Fukkura-san

Yesterday was the super eventful day for me in Healdsburg. Rain was pouring hard all day long, but my spirit was high.

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I had a donabe cooking class at SHED in the afternoon. So, I spent all morning doing final prepping for the class. The class started at 2 pm, and 13 guests participated in this sold-out class. This photo is taken by SHED.

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This is the only photo I took during the class, as I was too busy! We made 5 different dishes in the class and 4 of them were made in donabe. Here is the menu.
Smoked sausages, walnuts and soft-boiled eggs (Ibushi Gin)
Cilantro & persimmon salad with "banno-zu" vinaigrette
Steamed tofu, maitake & matsutake mushrooms with scallion and yuzu rind toppings (Mushi Nabe)
Niigata-style sake hot pot (classic-style donabe)
Buttered scallop & daikon rice including premium mochi mugi barley (Kamado-san)

I had such a great time doing the class! I was so happy everybody enjoyed the class. All the participants took home little souvenir bags from me. They were samples of premier short grain rice by Tamaki Farms in Uruguay, and mochi mugi barley by Hakubaku. These grains are essential in my kitchen and the rice recipe in the class was also made with them. Big thank you to Tamaki Farms and Hakubaku for generously contributing the samples for the class!

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After the class, I walked back to Single Thread, and this time, I checked in at their hotel upstairs. I had an honor to be the first official gust in their hotel! It's such a beautiful room with all the top design/ quality furniture and amenities. The most importantly, the room was so cozy and I could really relax inside.

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The room has a kitchenette and the complimentary wine (Pinot Noir by Freeman Vineyards), homemade snacks (the seasoned Sonoma nori seaweed was so addictive), and many different drinks including gourmet coffee maker, matcha shaker, etc. I wanted to try everything!

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There are 5 guest rooms in their upstairs hotel, and there is also a beautiful library room.

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Later in the evening, I walked downstairs to the restaurant. Yes, it was the first official (soft) opening night at Single Thread! Super exciting.

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After seeing all the constructions past years and prepping past couple of days, it felt almost surreal that there were actual guests inside of the restaurant and it looked so alive.

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All the lucky first customers.

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Chefs and front-of-the-house members were operating everything so smoothly that it was hard to believe it was their first official night.

This evening, I was also very happy to reunite with Eric, my special friend and who was also a photographer of our DONABE Cookbook, and his girlfriend, Alma. We sat down together and the epic dinner experience started.

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Hassun course...small dishes were plated one by one at the table.

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Every bite was extraordinary.

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Wine and sake pairing with every course.

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Dan & Kyle! Cured foie gras with sablé.

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Black cod and vegetables, steam-fried in tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san". It was brought to the table and chamomile dashi was poured over it.

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Aaron's sonoma grains, cooked in double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", with uni wrapped in Japanese wagyu beef. Heavenly.

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The pastry chef, Matt's talent is beyond anybody's imagination.

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Gravenstein apple sorbet. You crack the shell and there were treasures of chestnut sable, Saikyo miso chestnut puree, apple butter and shaved white truffles. Oh WOW.

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Wagashi coures.

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Kyle and Katina. They did! They really made it happen. I am so happy for them and I send all my love to them. Congratulations to both of you and the entire team of Single Thread!!

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I went back to my room after 1.30 am, then I got to choose breakfast menu. This morning, I had the wonderful scrambled egg tartan with shaved black truffles, cold brewed matcha and almond milk iced latte, and gyokuro green tea.

The whole experience at Single Thread was simply above and beyond. The quality of every detail in food, service, and place was top notch, and the best of all, you feel the love and omotenashi (hospitality) everywhere. I am certain Single Thread will be the world's top destination. Our donabe is lucky to be part of it.

Happy donabe life.